A brief introduction to the life and theories of Sigmund Freud, the controversial father of psychoanalysis.
"A man should not strive
to eliminate his complexes but to get into accord with them: they are legitimately
what directs his conduct in the world."
--- Sigmund Freud
Best Known For
- Freud was the founding father of psychoanalysis,
which is a major school of psychology
- His theory about sexuality being the center of psychopathology as well as
the major drive of all individual developments has made him one of the most
controversial yet most influential scientists of this century.
Freud was born in Moravia (now Czech Republic) on May 6, 1856.
He died in London on September 23, 1939.
Sigismund Schlomo Freud (later shortened to Sigmund Freud by himself) was
born to middle-class Jewish parents. When Freud was four, his family moved
to Vienna, Austria, where Freud spent most of his life until 1938, when he
was forced to flee to England because of the Nazi invasion.
Freud's father, Jacob Freud, was a wool merchant. Freud's mother, Amalia,
was Jacob's second wife and 20 years younger than her husband. Freud had two
much older half-brothers from his father's first marriage and seven younger
siblings. One of the older half-brothers had a son who was about Freud's age.
And Freud had a nanny who was Catholic and thought of as Freud's second mother.
The unusual family situation, especially the complex relationships Freud had
with his father and his nanny, was believed to have helped shape some of Freud's
psychoanalytic notions, such as the Oedipus Complex.
At age 17 Freud entered the University of Vienna to study medicine. Freud
was a diligent student and a believer of the theory of evolution and the methods
of natural science. Later, Freud, as a neuropathologist, became a respected
physician. He became interested in the treatment of an emotional disorder
known as hysteria when he studied under the famous French neurologist, Jean-Martin
Charcot. Back in Vienna, Freud collaborated with Josef Breuer, another physician
and physiologist. Breuer had a patient, known as Anna O, suffering from hysteria,
which apparently paralyzed her. During her treatment, Freud and Breuer discovered
that recalling traumatic experiences with the help of hypnosis would help
relieving her symptoms. In 1895, Freud and Breuer published Studies in
Hysteria, which documented "the cathartic method", also known as the "talking
Freud continued to develop and publish his theories. The Interpretation
of Dreams, published in 1900, and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,
published in 1905, made Freud famous. But his theories, especially the part
about infantile sexuality, were severely criticized by the intellectuals in
20th century Vienna. Freud and his work, however, persevered and gradually
gained a loyal following that included Alfred Adler and Carl Jung (who later
parted their ways with Freud). The "International Psychoanalytical Association
(IPA)" was founded in 1910. The psychoanalytical magazine "Imago" was founded
in 1912. Eventually, the society at large began to recognize the extraordinary
effort Freud had made in understanding the human mind. In 1935, just before
his eightieth birthday, Freud was appointed Honorary Member of the prestigious
British Royal Society of Medicine.
Today, the controversy over Freud's theories remains. Those theories, however,
have forever changed the Western views of psychopathology, day-to-day life,
and the world.
Publications by Freud
- 1895 Studies in Hysteria
- 1900 The Interpretation of Dreams
- 1901 The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
- 1905 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality
- 1905 Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious
- 1905 Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
- 1907 Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's Gradiva
- 1913 Totem and Taboo
- 1915 A letter to the publisher of A
Young Girl's Diary
- 1923 The Ego and the Id
- 1930 Civilization and its Discontents
- 1939 Moses and Monotheism
Biographies of Freud
- Breger, Louis (2000). Freud: Darkness in the Midst of Vision--An Analytical
- Ferris, Paul (1999). Dr. Freud: A Life
- Gay, Peter (1998). Freud : A Life for Our Time
- Roazen, Paul (1992). Freud and His Followers
- Storr, Anthony (1989). Freud